When fitted and used correctly, the Pessoa lunging system can help to create greater engagement and connection when lunging a horse. If used for short sessions on a regular basis, it is designed to encourage the horse to work correctly and help to strengthen their back.

The Pessoa lunging system was designed by showjumper Nelson Pessoa and uses a system of ropes and pulleys. There is an elastic tensioner positioned around the horse’s hindquarters and the tensioner attaches to the top of the roller. A further two lines run from the tensioner along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller (the rings are halfway down the horse’s body) and attaching to the bit rings via a small pulley, before running back to attach to the roller. It’s sounds tricky — and it’s easy to get confused! Make sure you fit the Pessoa lunging system to your horse correctly by following the instructions in full. We have also included a step-by-step guide to fitting a Pessoa below.

A Pessoa is designed to only be used on a horse while lunging. It creates a connection between the hindquarters and the horse’s mouth. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step under their body with the hindleg and stretch and lift their back. At the same time, the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising their head too far by applying pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers their head, this pressure is removed.

Why use a Pessoa lunging system?

Pessoa training aid

Using a lunging aid such as the Pessoa lunging system comes down to personal choice. Providing it is fitted and used correctly, the following can be achieved:

  • A supple back
  • Looser paces due to improved suppleness
  • Develops topline muscle
  • Improves connection from hindquarters to bridle
  • Better engagement of the hindquarters
  • Improves the horse’s balance

“By creating greater engagement and connection, the Pessoa can help improve muscle development in weak or young horses,” says training expert Tara Osborn. “Those horses who are difficult to motivate or who find engagement of their quarters difficult will also benefit.”

By improving the back muscles, it can also help to improve horses who are tense or hollow, encouraging relaxation and the lowering and stretching of the horse’s neck and topline.

How to fit a Pessoa lunging system

The system of ropes may look a little confusing to begin with, but once you’ve used it a few times, you’ll soon get the hang of what attaches where. This is how to fit a Pessoa:

  1. Put the lungeing roller on your horse and place the hindquarters tensioner over your horse’s back.
  2. Run the two lines from the tensioner along either side of your horse and through the rings on the roller positioned halfway up their body.
  3. Now clip the lines to the bit rings. While you’re fitting, clip both attachments onto your horse’s bit. When you’re ready to start lungeing, move one clip from each side on to the roller.
  4. Attach the V-shaped piece of rope to the top of the roller.
  5. The sheepskin-covered piece sits around your horse’s hindquarters. This rear piece needs to sit just behind their stifle – it can be easily adjusted on either side to fit.
  6. When attaching the front ropes, check they’re of equal lengths. To do this, undo the clip that doesn’t have a pulley and stand in front of your horse holding the ropes.

Always follow the instructions and seek help or advice if you need it. Fitted too tightly, a Pessoa will restrict the horse’s forward movement and bring their nose behind the vertical, putting them onto the forehand. The horse must be driven forward to achieve the correct frame. Too loose and the quarters won’t engage, so there’ll be no connection from the hindquarters to the bridle.

The price of a Pessoa lunging system varies, but expect to pay upwards of £30 in the UK

Buying in the UK? Purchase here

Buying in the USA? Purchase here RRP US$79.95

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